Presidential election in Indonesia: Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto wins the election

The current Minister of Defense, Prabowo Subianto, who claimed victory on polling day, February 14, won the presidential election in Indonesia in the first round, the electoral commission announced on Wednesday March 20

Presidential election in Indonesia: Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto wins the election

The current Minister of Defense, Prabowo Subianto, who claimed victory on polling day, February 14, won the presidential election in Indonesia in the first round, the electoral commission announced on Wednesday March 20.

The 72-year-old former general won with 58.6% of the vote against his two rivals Anies Baswedan (24.9%) and Ganjar Pranowo (16%), who have already announced want to contest the result. In total, 96 million voters voted in favor of the defense minister, compared to 41 million for his closest rival, Anies Baswedan.

Prabowo Subianto, with a controversial military past, will succeed Joko Widodo, nicknamed Jokowi, at the head of Southeast Asia's largest economy next October. His vice-president will be Gibran Rakabuming Raka, son of the outgoing president.

A “victory for all Indonesians”

On the evening of the vote, February 14, Prabowo Subianto, who was running for the presidency for the third time, after his failures in 2015 and 2019, claimed a “victory for all Indonesians” based on initial projections. The businessman benefited greatly from the presence of Gibran Rakabuming Raka at his side. His two rivals have three days to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court to contest the result, arguing possible fraud or irregularities.

Shortly after the election, the Ganjar Pranowo camp quickly denounced “structured, systematic and massive” fraud, without providing evidence. According to the future president's team of lawyers, the result is unlikely to be called into question due to the very significant difference in votes between Prabowo Subianto and his two rivals, local media reported.

Controversial past

At the time head of special forces, Prabowo Subianto was accused by NGOs and his former managers of having ordered the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in the 1990s, towards the end of the Suharto regime. He denied these accusations and was never prosecuted. He was long denied a visa by the United States and Australia for these allegations.

But thanks to a large presence on social networks, the man has softened his image among young Indonesians who often ignore the accusations against him and appreciate his commitment to continuing the policies of the very popular Jokowi.

Even before his election was officially announced, world leaders had already begun congratulating Prabowo Subianto, including the prime ministers of Britain, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Australia. The French President, Emmanuel Macron, also congratulated him, on March 9, for “the remarkable result in the election”. But the United States waited for the official announcement, contenting itself with congratulating the Indonesian people for their successful democratic exercise.